ESL Argumentative Essay Topics

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

ESL students love being able to use and show off their language skills. Argumentative essays give them the opportunity to show their language ability along with their logic and reasoning skills. This lesson lists some interesting topics for argumentative writing.

Discussing Argumentative Essay Writing

Your advanced ESL students may be excited about writing an essay using their strong language ability. However, students are often prone to arguing in a way that weakens their argumentative essay. In order to avoid this, it is important that you first reinforce logical thinking patterns. For example, ask your students if the statement 'Everybody loves chocolate' is arguable or not. This type of example illustrates the need to make statements without generalizations.

Similarly, advise students to stay away from personal beliefs that have no basis on facts. For instance, the argument 'It is a fact that God exists' is not based on fact and would not appeal to an agnostic reader. Finally, advise students to avoid making references to research if they cannot cite the source. To illustrate, the statement 'Research shows that grapes prevent asthma attacks in kids' does not say where the research takes place. If the student cannot find a specific study, this information should not be included.

With these basic ideas in mind, let's go ahead and explore some questions (divided by theme) that students might consider when coming up with topics for their argumentative essays.

Arguing About Technology

  • Is the use of cell phones reducing face-to-face communication among people?
  • What are the disadvantages of the internet in developing people's knowledge? If you don't see any disadvantages, discuss the advantages of the internet in developing people's knowledge.
  • Are social networks a platform for gossip?
  • Are people's lives accurately displayed on social networks?
  • What are the unhealthy aspects of spending too much time on the phone/internet?
  • What are the ethical limits for technology development?

Arguing About Education

  • Is standardized testing an objective tool to determine how much students know?
  • Do students nowadays respect teachers?
  • Is philosophy a subject that should be taught in schools?
  • Is logical thinking a needed practice in schools?
  • Is grade retention a positive or negative measure to help students who are behind their peers?
  • How can schools approach the bullying problem?
  • Should sexual education be mandatory for high school students?
  • Is elementary and secondary education providing students with valuable knowledge?

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